It looks like the alarm has been raised, and the general contractor was down at the site this morning. As of right now the scraping of the sign has been suspended. The last I heard, the City Manager was also on his way to check out the situation.
Orange historian Phil Brigandi writes, “Paul Sens had a grocery store there on the corner just before Wally Zirkle; he is listed in the directories for 1951 and '52.”
So the sign isn’t as old as we thought, but it’s still more than 50 years old, which qualifies it as historic by most standards. In any case, research and documentation should have been done PRIOR to any decisions being made about the sign. At best, short-circuiting the process is a way to make yourself very unpopular in a town like Orange.
Further fleshing out the story, Phil notes, “When Wally died this past year, his obituary said he was in there [until] 1961. Orange Lock & Key moved there from across the street in 1966… I still lack documentation for the 1914 [construction] date."
The Assessor's records date the building's construction at 1912. But these records - in any town - are often "off" by a couple years.